The Review and Herald

958/1902

November 1, 1898

Week of Prayer at Avondale Church

EGW

There was a large attendance at our meetings on Sabbath, June 4. Besides the families of the Avondale church, there were about forty present from Dora Creek, making a congregation, old and young, of over two hundred. The weather was excellent, and about thirty took their dinner under the large gum-trees near the church. This was the last Sabbath of the week of prayer, and the time appointed for the bringing in of the annual offerings for missions. RH November 1, 1898, par. 1

During the week, envelopes had been distributed, in which the gifts to missions might be enclosed; and on the envelope was a place for the name of the giver, and for the reference to a Scripture text expressing the thought accompanying the gift. A similar provision was made for gifts to the school. RH November 1, 1898, par. 2

At the opening of the meeting a psalm of thanksgiving was read, and then invitation was given for each one to read the text that had been selected to accompany his gift. Then prayer was offered that God would accept our offerings and our praise; the gifts were collected; and the article on consecration, written by Brother A. T. Jones, was read. The Scripture texts and the article on consecration made a deep impression on all; and from this day, changes were wrought in many lives. RH November 1, 1898, par. 3

In the afternoon I spoke from 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. These chapters, speaking of the joyful giving of churches that were in deep poverty, and giving instruction regarding the principles that should govern Christian benevolence and ministry, seemed to be very appropriate. We are surrounded with difficulties and with poverty, yet we may have the joy of giving. As we read the chapters, we felt that our people could understand them. We knew that nearly all who had bestowed their gifts had not given from their abundance, but that they had given as a result of self-denial, and with a desire to do what was within their power. To all such the sixth verse of the ninth chapter comes as a precious promise: “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” RH November 1, 1898, par. 4

The promises, the encouragement, and the instruction in these chapters are the words of inspiration; they are the voice of God speaking to us today. When every one will do to the utmost of his ability, giving in faith and love, and with an appreciation of the infinite sacrifice made for us, the Lord will receive the gifts, and will make his gifts to abound toward us so that we shall lose nothing. RH November 1, 1898, par. 5

The Lord knows all the thoughts of our hearts. He understands all our circumstances, and the self-denials and sacrifices made for the advancement of his work in the earth. He saw how willingly and earnestly the people of this place entered heart and soul into the work of helping to finish the buildings required for our first term of school. RH November 1, 1898, par. 6

There are times when much is to be gained by a united, prompt, and persistent effort. The time for opening our school had been appointed; but our brethren throughout the colonies were looking for a postponement. They had waited long for the school to open, and were discouraged. There was much work yet to be done on the buildings, and our funds were exhausted. Therefore the builders said that the work could not be done at the appointed time. But we said there must be no delay. The school must be opened at the time named. So we laid the matter before the church, and called for volunteers. Thirty men and women offered themselves for the work; and although it was hard for them to spare the time, a strong company continued at the work day after day till the buildings were completed, cleaned, and furnished, ready to be used at the day set for opening the school. RH November 1, 1898, par. 7

When the time came for this meeting-house to be built, there was another test of faith and loyalty. We had a council to consider what should be done. The way seemed hedged about with difficulties. Some said: “Enclose a small building, and when money shall come in, enlarge; for we can not possibly complete at this time such a house as we desire.” Others said, “Wait till we have money with which to build a commodious house.” This we thought to do; but the word of the Lord came to me in the night season, “Arise, and build without delay.” RH November 1, 1898, par. 8

We then decided that we would take hold of the work, and walk out by faith to make a beginning. The very next night there came from South Africa a draft for two hundred pounds. This was a gift from Brother and Sister Lindsay, of Cape Town, to help us in building the meeting-house. Our faith had been tested, we had decided to begin the work, and now the Lord put into our hands this large gift with which to begin. With this encouragement the work was begun in earnest. The school board gave the land and one hundred pounds. Two hundred pounds was received from the Union Conference, and the members of the church gave what they could. Friends outside of the church helped, and the builders gave a part of their time, which was as good as money. Thus the work was completed, and we have this beautiful house, capable of seating four hundred people. We thank the Lord for this house in which to worship him. He understands all the strait places through which we were brought. When difficulties arose, Elder Haskell, who was superintending the work, would call the workmen together, and they would pray earnestly for God's blessing upon themselves and the work. The Lord heard prayer, and the house was completed in seven weeks. RH November 1, 1898, par. 9

To Brother and Sister Lindsay, we say now, as we said when the draft arrived: We thank you for helping us in the beginning by the gift of one thousand pounds for the purchase of our school land, and we thank you for again coming to our assistance. And we give honor and praise to Him who has committed to you this treasure, and that he has put it into your hearts to respond to the necessities of his work in this place. And to our brethren and sisters here, who have sacrificed and labored for the building of this house, we say: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: as it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth forever.” RH November 1, 1898, par. 10

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them,” said Jesus, “he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” Here faith and works are combined. The one who loves, obeys: the love of the heart shapes the conduct. When the Lord speaks to us, saying, “Go forward,” it is not for us to stand and talk of difficulties, but promptly to obey, knowing that God understands the nature of every difficulty. If those in his service will stop talking unbelief and magnifying difficulties, and will move forward in humble obedience, God, in his providence, will co-operate with the finite efforts of man, and thus testify to the world of his omnipotence. RH November 1, 1898, par. 11

Thus God will encourage his faithful stewards who are ready to put all their energies and God-given endowments to the very best use. As all learn the lesson of faithfully rendering to God what is his due, he, through his providences, will enable some to bring princely offerings, as Sister Wessels and her children have done, laying upon the altar of God their offerings in Christian liberality. He will enable others to present smaller offerings; and the small offerings and the large are acceptable to him, if given with an eye single to his glory. “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God.” RH November 1, 1898, par. 12

As the promises and principles were presented to the people, many hearts were cheered; and some who had made small offerings, with which they were not satisfied, brought additional gifts after the meeting. RH November 1, 1898, par. 13

The closing meeting of our special season of thanksgiving and prayer was held Sunday afternoon. Again our meeting-house was well filled. The friendly visits and invitations from our brethren had encouraged a number of families to come from a distance to this afternoon meeting, who could not readily travel so far in the evening. Our teams had brought about twenty-five from Dora Creek; and just before the service, they held a consultation with our church officers, which led to a decision to rent a cottage for meetings, and to establish regular services there, Sabbath morning and Sunday afternoon. RH November 1, 1898, par. 14

As I spoke to the people, my spirit was stirred again to urge upon students, and church-members not in the school, to arouse, and obtain all they possibly could of an intelligent knowledge of the Scriptures, and then bring this knowledge into their practical life. The church is to be a shining light, a blessing to others. Said Christ, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” RH November 1, 1898, par. 15

I felt an earnest desire that our people should see and appreciate the missionary fields right around us. “Say ye not, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” RH November 1, 1898, par. 16

And so it is today. There is work to do everywhere in the fields within our sight, if we would but lift up our eyes and look. God's servants must throw off all inclination to sloth. Lay firm hold of the work given you, and hold it fast. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” The work requires physical, mental, and moral power. If we do not cultivate the ability to impart to others, we shall soon lose our power to do the work required at this time; but if we exercise our talents in God's service, heavenly angels will be close by our side to help us. RH November 1, 1898, par. 17

The Offerings

By Sunday afternoon it was known that the gifts to the mission fund and to the school amounted to about two hundred and twenty-five dollars. We all desired to bring it to two hundred and fifty; and the students in the school, who had very little money to give, proposed to give a day's labor. This proposition was presented to the whole school; and it was arranged to suspend school the next day, that all the students might be free to give one day's labor to the cause of missions. The young men took a job of clearing, and the young women made one hundred and fifty pounds of granola. All united in the work, and worked with a will. When the results of this day's labor were turned into cash, we found that our united gifts had reached the desired amount,—two hundred and fifty dollars. We all wish it were a hundred times more; but we are glad to have had a part in doing this much for the cause we love. RH November 1, 1898, par. 18